Introduction to Niseko Town 

The name "Niseko" is derived from the language of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, and from the name of the mountain "Niseko Annupuri," a distinctive mountain that forms the landscape of the region. In the Ainu language, "Niseko" means "cliff," and "Nupuri" means "mountain." Combining these two words, "Niseko Annupuri" means "a mountain with sheer cliffs and rivers." 

Niseko Town is located in western Hokkaido and is a hilly basin surrounded by the mountains of Mt. Yotei (1,898m) and Niseko Annupuri (1,308m), a national park and a resort area rich in nature. Mt. Yotei is a single peak with a beautiful shape similar to Mt. Fuji. The mountain is also designated as part of the "Shikotsu-Toya National Park. The alpine flora zone of the mountain is defined as a national cultural asset, a historic site and a natural monument of scenic beauty. The Shiribetsu River, the most transparent river in Japan, flows through the area, which is also the southern limit of habitat for the endangered "Itou" (Salmonidae), one of Japan's largest freshwater fish species. 

The average annual temperature is 6.3 degrees Celsius, and the area enjoys heavy snowfall with extraordinarily beautiful snowy scenery, as much as 200 cm in winter. Niseko is home to 5,000 people living in approximately 2,500 households, of which 94% are Japanese, and 6% are non-Japanese. 

Hokkaido, where Niseko is located, has been developed and settled by many people since the 19th century. Today, most of Niseko's residents are involved in agriculture and tourism, and there are approximately 150 farm households in the area, with about 2,000 hectares of fields producing agricultural products. 

In addition, the spirit of "mutual support" is deeply rooted in the people of Niseko. In 1922, Mr. Takeo Arishima, the owner of a large farm in Niseko and one of Japan's most famous writers, donated the farm he had inherited from his father to a small farmer free of charge. The spirit of "mutual support," a legacy of Mr. Takeo Arishima, was passed down through the generations and spread throughout the community

Cultural information

At the annual summer festival held at Kaributo Jinja shrine in Niseko Town, a parade of portable shrines is accompanied by a procession of flag-wavers called "Akasaka Yakko," who act as a herald for the portable shrines. 

"Akasaka Yakko" marched in the parades of feudal lords and at festivals during the Edo period (17th-19th centuries). They are known for their distinctive beards and other peculiar attire that attract spectators' attention. 

Niseko Town has an open environment and attracts many artists, not only from Japan but also from abroad. The town offers a variety of galleries and ateliers to enjoy culture and art, including the Arishima Memorial Museum, which introduces one of Japan’s most famous writers, Mr. Takeo Arishima. 

According to the "Niseko Town Landscape Ordinance," prior consultation is required for development projects (e.g., structures over 10 meters in height, designated business sites, and land developments exceeding a particular size) and outdoor installation advertising in the town. 

In this way, the city strived to protect the fantastic landscape created from activities in harmony with nature and the landscape and built up over time as local industry, culture, and history.


Transport to Niseko Town 

Niseko Town can be reached from New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido in about 180 minutes by train or local bus. It is also about 110 km from Sapporo City, Hokkaido’s major city, and can be visited from Sapporo City in about 120 minutes by train or local bus. Using a rental or hired car takes about 120 minutes from Sapporo City, 100 minutes from Otaru City in Hokkaido, and 180 minutes from Hakodate City in Hokkaido.

How to get around in the surrounding areas

Niseko Town operates a circuitbus service during winter, the top tourist season. Departing from JR Niseko Station, the town's central railroad station, the buses provide transportation between hotels, ski resorts, and dinner locations, helping to improve convenience for tourists. In addition, a reservation-based, door-to-door, on-demand bus service called "Nikotto Bus" operates within the town, providing transportation for residents and tourists.

Electric bicycles can be rented at the tourist information center in front of the station, making it possible to get around Niseko directly after getting off the train. In addition, the Niseko Promotion Board, an organization that promotes the Niseko area, has introduced an official free Niseko app that provides a variety of information to tourists, including the latest tourist information, events, weather, etc. The app offers a variety of information to help tourists get around.


What’s good to eat in Niseko Town 

Niseko Town, one of Japan's most prominent agricultural regions, is a treasure trove of food. There are approximately 150 farm households in Niseko, producing agricultural products on about 2,000 hectares of fields. Potatoes, rice, melons, asparagus, tomatoes, lily roots, pumpkins, beans, and a variety of other produce are the main crops. Niseko's relatively mild climate, with significant temperature differences between day and night, is conducive to the healthy growth of crops.

Hotels and restaurants offer the best cuisine by utilizing the town's abundant produce, including a variety of locally grown crops and dairy cheeses produced by the region's thriving dairy farms. The cheese factory in Niseko Town manufactures and sells about 20 kinds of cheese, and visitors can enjoy a variety of cheeses that go well with wine and alcohol.

The foot of Mt. Yotei has long been known for its potatoes, but in recent years, high-quality rice, melons, asparagus, tomatoes, and corns have also attracted attention as locally grown foods.

Niseko farms are committed to producing safe agricultural products that can be eaten with peace of mind and aim for sustainable and more organic agriculture including a recycling system in which discarded organic matter is reused as fertilizer

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    Tips for your stay in Niseko Town 

    Niseko's wilderness can be beautiful, but it can also be harsh. The weather can be unpredictable, and there can be strong winds, so we recommend you bring a rain jacket.

    Commercial facilities and convenience stores are located only in the central town, so preparing your personal belongings in advance is a good idea. Some places have spring water available, so bringing a water bottle with you is a good idea. 

    As a small town, taxis and on-demand buses may not be readily available, and buses may be infrequent, so we recommend you plan your transportation, especially on arrival day.


    Best Things to do in Niseko Town 

    The Niseko area is home to the world-famous, high-quality powder snow that gives a feeling of weightlessness when skiing, and so several ski resorts have been developed along the mountain. As a result, many tourists from Japan and abroad visit the area for skiing. 

    In addition, the abundant natural resources in Niseko Town, such as the majestic Mt. Yotei and the Shiribetsu River, allow visitors to experience adventure and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed, such as climbing the Niseko mountain range where Hokkaido's endemic animals can be seen such as the Ezo squirrel and the Ezo red fox can be seen. 

    They can also enjoy activities such as rafting in the rapids of the Shiribetsu River and horseback riding. Visitors to Niseko Town can enjoy the magnificent nature by hiking to Niseko Annupuri with commentary by a nature guide or by taking a nature tour to enjoy the alpine flowers and other plants that change from season to season. Even if skiing is not your thing, some tours take visitors on a sled ride pulled by farm horses through the snowfields. 

    In summer, visitors can also take a hot-air balloon ride from Niseko's ski slopes to enjoy the beautiful town and natural scenery of Niseko Town from the sky. In addition, there are many hot springs scattered throughout the region, including "Niseko Goshiki Onsen," where visitors can enjoy many different types of hot springs. 

    The "Niseko Yumeguri Pass" allows visitors to enjoy this abundance of hot spring resources at a reasonable price. After enjoying winter sports in the cold snow or climbing Niseko Annupuri, a warm soak in a hot spring is a great way to heal your body. Even beginners can enjoy indoor experiences such as crafts making music boxes and sundry goods using wood and deer antlers produced in Niseko Town, or cooking using locally grown fruits and milk. 

    As for accommodation, there is a variety of lodging facilities ranging from simple lodging to unique cottages and luxury hotels where visitors can relax and enjoy themselves. One of the attractions of Niseko is that visitors can find accommodations that meets their individual needs.

    Entertainment in Niseko Town 

    Kaributo Jinja shrine, built in 1904, holds an annual festival in August. On the day of the festival, Niseko Town is filled with a festive atmosphere as the local people pull the portable shrine, decorated in glittering decorations, through the streets, making it the biggest festival in the community. 

    The festival includes a traditional procession by flag-wavers called "Akasaka-Yakko," floats, musical instrument performances, and the dedication of traditional Japanese performing arts to the gods. 

    During Halloween, residents work together to harvest pumpkins grown by local farmers, which are then placed throughout Niseko town, and the entire town is decorated with Halloween pumpkins. Trick-or-treating and costume contests are also held for children to enjoy, and the town becomes festive for both residents and tourists. 

    Since there is much snow in the area, residents create snow sculptures and light up the beautiful snowy landscape with candles in front of Niseko Station and throughout the town, creating a magical event held every winter.


    Some suggested tours to experience in Niseko Town 

    The Niseko Bicycle Tour, led by a local outdoor guide, allows visitors to experience the charms of Niseko that cannot be seen from a car window, and can only be found by a local guide. The Shiribetsu River that runs through Niseko has been voted the most beautiful river in Japan, and the Shiribetsu River basin is home to vegetation unique to the area and a variety of unique bird species. Canoeing in Shiribetsu River with Mt. Yotei in the background, while a nature guide explains Niseko's natural beauty can be enjoyed by all ages. The river is usually viewed from above, but from the vantage point on the surface of the river, it takes on a different look, surprising you with the workings of nature that you would only sometimes notice.